ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the estimated number of people who will be diagnosed with liver cancer each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors, and no 2 people with cancer are the same. Use the menu to see other pages.
Every person is different, with different factors influencing their risk of being diagnosed with this cancer and the chance of recovery after a diagnosis. It is important to talk with your doctor about any questions you have around the general statistics provided below and what they may mean for you individually. The original sources for these statistics are provided at the bottom of this page.
How many people are diagnosed with liver cancer?
In 2023, an estimated 41,210 adults (27,980 men and 13,230 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with primary liver cancer. Since 1980, the incidence of liver cancer has more than tripled. However, between 2014 and 2015, incidence rates slowed in women while remaining steady in men. Men are almost 3 times more likely than women to be diagnosed with the disease. Worldwide, an estimated 905,677 people were diagnosed with liver cancer in 2020.
It is estimated that 29,380 deaths (19,000 men and 10,380 women) from this disease will occur in the United States in 2023. For men, liver cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer death. It is the seventh most common cause of cancer death among women. Although the overall liver cancer death rate more than doubled since 1980, it stabilized between 2016 and 2020 for both men and women.
Worldwide, liver cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death. In 2020, an estimated 830,180 people around the world died from the disease. When compared with the United States, liver cancer is much more common in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. In some countries, it is the most common type of cancer.
What is the survival rate for liver cancer?
There are different types of statistics that can help doctors evaluate a person’s chance of recovery from liver cancer. These are called survival statistics. A specific type of survival statistic is called the relative survival rate. It is often used to predict how having cancer may affect life expectancy. Relative survival rate looks at how likely people with liver cancer are to survive for a certain amount of time after their initial diagnosis or start of treatment compared to the expected survival of similar people without this cancer.
Example: Here is an example to help explain what a relative survival rate means. Please note this is only an example and not specific to this type of cancer. Let’s assume that the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific type of cancer is 90%. “Percent” means how many out of 100. Imagine there are 1,000 people without cancer, and based on their age and other characteristics, you expect 900 of the 1,000 to be alive in 5 years. Also imagine there are another 1,000 people similar in age and other characteristics as the first 1,000, but they all have the specific type of cancer that has a 5-year survival rate of 90%. This means it is expected that 810 of the people with the specific cancer (90% of 900) will be alive in 5 years.
It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with liver cancer are only an estimate. They cannot tell an individual person if cancer will or will not shorten their life. Instead, these statistics describe trends in groups of people previously diagnosed with the same disease, including specific stages of the disease.
The 5-year relative survival rate for liver cancer in the United States is 21%, compared to 3% 40 years ago.
The survival rates for liver cancer vary based on several factors. These include the stage of cancer, a person’s age and general health, and how well the treatment plan works.
For the 43% of people who are diagnosed with liver cancer at an early stage, the 5-year relative survival rate is 36%. If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs and/or to the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year relative survival rate is 13%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the 5-year relative survival rate is 3%. However, even if the cancer is found at a more advanced stage, treatments are available to help many people with liver cancer experience a quality of life similar to that of before their diagnosis, at least for some time. If surgery is possible, it generally results in higher survival rates across all stages of the disease.
Experts measure relative survival rate statistics for liver cancer every 5 years. This means the estimate may not reflect the results of advancements in how liver cancer is diagnosed or treated from the last 5 years. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.
Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's (ACS) publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2023, the ACS website, and the International Agency for Cancer Research website. (All sources accessed February 2023.)
The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers a drawing of the location of the liver in the body. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.